This morning I woke to the joyful songs of birds chirping, twilling and shrieking. I could sense their anticipation of another warm spring day spent bug-hunting. My hope is that they’ll focus on the grasshopper nymphs that are making lace of the sunflowers, artichokes and other leafy plants in our flower fields.
As organic farmers, we seek natural solutions to farming challenges so birdhouses, bird baths, bird feeders are installed to encourage them to stay and dine on baby locusts. Fortunately Central Texas is a major bird migratory route so there is a constant stream of fascinating birds. Check out ebird.org and you’ll be amazed at variety around you. Every winter we partner with the Audubon Society for its annual Lost Pines Christmas Bird Count on the farm and we are delighted when it includes everything from bald eagles to blue birds. Our long term goal is to build a bird blind by the river so visitors and campers can enjoy the ongoing parade.
Today — National Arbor Day — is a good day to think about birds and trees and how we can all have more of both. Skip and I have planted more than 500 trees and shrubs since we bought our River Farm ten years ago. This year, we’re upping our game, adding another 300.
Given Skip’s proclivity for filling his pockets with nuts and other tree seeds, we are off to a good start. The Arbor Foundation (TAF), which has a goal of planting more than 20 million trees around the world, makes trees/shrubs affordable. (You can purchase single trees for less than $20 or bundles of 50 seedling trees for $69; you can verify what grows well on the Wildflower Center’s database TAF has excellent resource pages and fun activities for children too. Other good local tree sources are TreeFolks and Hill Country Natives. Though it’s getting a bit warm for tree planting in Austin (today's high is supposed to be a record breaking 97 degrees), now is a good time to prepare trees for summer heat and put in your orders for the ones you’d like to plant come cooler temps in October.